Computers overtake jobs that humans once held. That’s nothing new. It’s becoming an old complaint, in fact, as more and more once-human tasks are streamlined and performed, often better, by electronics. But many argue that there are some jobs where a computer can never, and will never, rise to the top. And according to Architect Magazine, architecture is one of them.
There are numerous reasons why the idea of computers working in design might be a dream (or a nightmare) that will never come true. Here are 5 of the most fundamental:
#1: Computers Can’t Think Creatively
Probably at the top of the list of reasons why computers can’t replace architects is also the most obvious. Computers can’t think creatively. But creativity is part of everyday life for architects.
Unlike some other fields where creativity isn’t as important, in architecture it’s required. So a computer is incapable of fulfilling one of the most important elements of architecture, which is artistry, innovation, and inspiration that humans bring to the field.
#2: Data Can’t Quantify Taste
Just as a computer can’t create something tasteful or otherwise, at least not on purpose, it can’t determine why a human does or doesn’t like something that it has created. Computers have no taste, so they can’t understand it or spell it out.
Some perfectly functional buildings are ugly and unappealing, making them fall out of favor with their intended users. But a computer could never tell you why, nor could it take evasive action to avoid it.
#3: Computers Can’t Negotiate
Negotiation is another pinnacle of architecture. And it’s another area where computers can’t keep up with the human mind.
Some might say that under the perfect circumstances, negotiation would be unnecessary. That might be true. But until a computer can create a perfect circumstance, it’s as useless at negotiation as it is with creativity and style.
#4: It’s Already Failed Before
This might be unfair to computers, since part of being human is trying and trying again until we get it right. But all of the failings that exist today existed when computers made their first foray into architecture during the 1960s.
Data is knowable. But data is only a part of what makes an architect an architect. That hasn’t changed, and neither has computing’s ability to understand it.
#5: The Human Element Isn’t Definable
In architecture, as in any other field where humanity is vital, even the most sophisticated computers simply cannot understand. A program can document what happens to the human brain during a period of inspiration, but it can’t explain why it happens or how.
Computers can record and play back the process of negotiation, but they can’t duplicate the human reasons for why and how it works. Computers are unable to break down the human element into ones and zeroes. And until they can, they can’t replace people as architects.
The human mind is a complex thing. While we might understand what happens when it functions, we can’t often explain it or duplicate the same patterns again and again. And who programs computers? We do.
The real stumbling block to computers overtaking the very human field of architecture might just lie in our inability to understand it ourselves. Until we do, which is not likely to happen soon, there really can be no substitute for a person’s creativity and keen eye for design. It’s like any other phenomenon. Maybe we can’t define it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it.
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